Review: Cut Up by Conor Robin Madigan


In his debut novel, Evanston’s Conor Robin Madigan, spins a tell that blends fact and fiction to retell the warped and damaged childhood of a boy named Liam. Cut Up begins when Liam is an infant struggling to sleep in the arms of his parents Rob and Sherri. Conor’s method of storytelling is brisk and condensed, his sentences and word selection are tight and give this tale a rapid pace that seems to mirror life. It is always moving and growing, but Liam never seems to be ahead of it or in a place where he fully seems wanted in the way he wants to be wanted.

Liam is met with tragedy from an early age, but it takes some time for it to fully sink in. His mother neglected him from the day he was born, and he searches he love in the most inappropriate way. The place and timeframe of the tales in not reveled until the novel’s endnote, but it wasn’t that far off from what I had been visualizing while I read. Through out the tale you get a sense of a small town, a rural farm town, and the way gossip spreads. You also see how race and gender played a major role in public opinion in this period of time.

In the editor’s intro to the novel you get a sense at how unexpected and necessary Cut Up truly is. It is rare that a young writer can blindly send a novel to publishers with a note that says something like “Please read, just please read this”, and actually see that work published. Conor has create something that is real, touching, twisted, and in the end both shocking and fulfilling.

Cut Up was released on May 1st by The Republic of Letters. You can read the first chapter here.

Filed under: chicago novels

Tags: Conor Robin Madigan


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